Sentence in bias attack is seen as too lenient
A Middlesex County superior court judge sentenced a teenager in September’s attack on a yeshiva student in Edison, but some critics say the sentence is too lenient.
The youth, identified only as M.K. because of his age, was found guilty of third-degree aggravated assault and second-degree bias intimidation for his role in the assault last Rosh Hashana on a student at the Rabbi Jacob Joseph Yeshiva in Edison.
The 19-year-old student sustained a concussion after being taunted and jumped by a group of teens on Woodbridge Avenue.
M.K., who was 16 at the time, struck the victim in the head with his fist and knocked him to the ground.
In a Jan. 28 statement announcing the conviction and sentencing issued by Middlesex County prosecutor Bruce Kaplan, it was announced that Superior Court Judge Roger W. Daley placed the perpetrator on probation for one year and ordered him to pay $630 in restitution to the victim for replacement of broken eyeglasses, medical copayments, and cost of cleaning the religious garb he was wearing.
In addition, the judge ordered the juvenile to write a 500-word essay on the effects of anti-Semitism.
Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg of Congregation Beth-El in Edison said he was “appalled” by the sentence.
“This is a joke,” said Rosenberg. “I’m outraged at the sentence. Writing an essay on the effects of anti-Semitism is not going to teach this young man not to beat up Jews again. It sends a message to other young people that they can beat up others for bias reasons, and their penalty will be a light one.
“It just sends a message to every young hoodlum they can beat Jewish kids.”
Rosenberg, who himself was pelted with eggs several years ago as he and his wife walked to synagogue, said the perpetrators in that incident were given community service and questioned why that wasn’t considered as an option for M.K.
Etzion Neuer, executive director of the New Jersey office of the Anti-Defamation League, said he found the sentence hard to understand and said it “evoked feelings of ambivalence.”
Neuer said Middlesex County assistant prosecutor Ralph Cretella had asked that the youth be placed in an alternative sentencing program at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft designed to educate young perpetrators of bias crimes.
“We realize the juvenile justice system is designed to educate, not punish,” said Neuer, “but we also realize the judge had some discretion so he could have handed out a more severe sentence.
“Considering the viciousness of this crime and the violence, it’s hard to get a sense justice was served.”